Sibel Edmonds Speaks...
Sibel Edmonds, the FBI whistle-blower who has been gagged for years by the Bush administration over intercepts she translated while at the bureau, was willing to go to prison to get her story told. She spent years trying to get her day in court, but the State Secrets gag against her prohibited her from telling her story even to a FISA judge. After years of trying to fight her way to through the maze of the US court system, Sibel Edmonds finally decided to tell her story no matter the consequences and offered to do so to any interested US media outlets.
Today, part of that story runs, but not in the United States, where not a single corporate outlet was willing to displease the White House and give Edmonds a platform. The Sunday Times Online, however, proved up to the task - somewhat. Here are the snips from that article:
"A WHISTLEBLOWER has made a series of extraordinary claims about how corrupt government officials allowed Pakistan and other states to steal nuclear weapons secrets.
Sibel Edmonds, a 37-year-old former Turkish language translator for the FBI, listened into hundreds of sensitive intercepted conversations while based at the agency's Washington field office.
She approached The Sunday Times last month after reading about an Al-Qaeda terrorist who had revealed his role in training some of the 9/11 hijackers while he was in Turkey.
Edmonds described how foreign intelligence agents had enlisted the support of US officials to acquire a network of moles in sensitive military and nuclear institutions.
Among the hours of covert tape recordings, she says she heard evidence that one well-known senior official in the US State Department was being paid by Turkish agents in Washington who were selling the information on to black market buyers, including Pakistan.
The name of the official - who has held a series of top government posts - is known to The Sunday Times. He strongly denies the claims.
However, Edmonds said: "He was aiding foreign operatives against US interests by passing them highly classified information, not only from the State Department but also from the Pentagon, in exchange for money, position and political objectives."
Let me help the Times here. The person against whom these allegations are being made is Marc Grossman. The Times could have published the name and also provided the denial from Grossman's camp. I find it incredibly disturbing that they would not name the official.
"She claims that the FBI was also gathering evidence against senior Pentagon officials - including household names - who were aiding foreign agents.
"If you made public all the information that the FBI have on this case, you will see very high-level people going through criminal trials," she said.
Her story shows just how much the West was infiltrated by foreign states seeking nuclear secrets. It illustrates how western government officials turned a blind eye to, or were even helping, countries such as Pakistan acquire bomb technology."
Those senior DOD officials who are not mentioned in the Times article, all but one are no longer in government. They are alleged to be Doug Feith, Richard Perle, among others. There is also one person who is part of these allegations, still serving in a high level position at the DOD. His last name begins with an E.
I have tried getting someone in broadcast and print media to run this story. My sources did not include Edmonds, but because of the sensitive nature of the information, I was concerned that she would go to jail anyway, unless I proved she was not a source - which would require me to reveal my sources.
I thought if I approached a big enough news outlet, the pressure generated by the public response would spare Edmonds jail time and I would not be pressured to reveal sources - something I would not have done anyway. Even a former high ranking CIA officer offered to byline the article with me if that would help sell a broadcaster/publication on running the story. No one was interested.
That the Times ran these allegations (she is under a state secrets gag folks, so it is not like she is gagged for lying) is encouraging. But that they omitted all names from the allegations is unethical. The point of a free press is not to protect the powerful against the weak, but to protect the public from the powerful. The Times was willing to stick a toe in, but was not willing to risk upsetting a foreign government (This is, after all, a British paper).
There are more names, including members of Congress and people serving in the FBI. This is what happens when basic government services as well as the most sensitive government functions are outsourced to the global marketplace.
Back to the Times article, which toward the end illustrates that someone in the editorial offices located a backbone, even if temporarily:
"She has given evidence to closed sessions of Congress and the 9/11 commission, but many of the key points of her testimony have remained secret. She has now decided to divulge some of that information after becoming disillusioned with the US authorities' failure to act.Let me again offer help to the good folks at the Times. The person in question is a Turkish military official who at that time also happened to sit on the board of a particular defense contracting firm.
One of Edmonds's main roles in the FBI was to translate thousands of hours of conversations by Turkish diplomatic and political targets that had been covertly recorded by the agency.
The Turks and Israelis had planted "moles" in military and academic institutions which handled nuclear technology. Edmonds says there were several transactions of nuclear material every month, with the Pakistanis being among the eventual buyers. "The network appeared to be obtaining information from every nuclear agency in the United States," she said.
They were helped, she says, by the high-ranking State Department official who provided some of their moles - mainly PhD students - with security clearance to work in sensitive nuclear research facilities. These included the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory in New Mexico, which is responsible for the security of the US nuclear deterrent.
In one conversation Edmonds heard the official arranging to pick up a $15,000 cash bribe. The package was to be dropped off at an agreed location by someone in the Turkish diplomatic community who was working for the network.
"The Turks, she says, often acted as a conduit for the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan's spy agency, because they were less likely to attract suspicion. Venues such as the American Turkish Council in Washington were used to drop off the cash, which was picked up by the official.
Edmonds said: "I heard at least three transactions like this over a period of 2½ years. There are almost certainly more."Now, who is General Mahmoud Ahmad?
The Pakistani operation was led by General Mahmoud Ahmad, then the ISI chief."
"Intelligence analysts say that members of the ISI were close to Al-Qaeda before and after 9/11. Indeed, Ahmad was accused of sanctioning a $100,000 wire payment to Mohammed Atta, one of the 9/11 hijackers, immediately before the attacks." You can see why Edmonds had to be silenced for "diplomatic reasons." As though diplomatic (read: business) relationships are more important than national security. Let me give you one more snip from this incredible article (minus the censorship):
"Khan was close to Ahmad and the ISI. While running Pakistan's nuclear programme, he became a millionaire by selling atomic secrets to Libya, Iran and North Korea. He also used a network of companies in America and Britain to obtain components for a nuclear programme. Read the whole thing. I urge you to print it, email it, share it with everyone you know. Edmonds has said enough now that she may very likely go to prison, but she is a true patriot and she must have our support, in the media and also in the public sphere.
Khan caused an alert among western intelligence agencies when his aides met Osama Bin Laden. "We were aware of contact between A Q Khan's people and Al-Qaeda," a former CIA officer said last week. "There was absolute panic when we initially discovered this, but it kind of panned out in the end."
It is likely that the nuclear secrets stolen from the United States would have been sold to a number of rogue states by Khan.
Edmonds was later to see the scope of the Pakistani connections when it was revealed that one of her fellow translators at the FBI was the daughter of a Pakistani embassy official who worked for Ahmad. The translator was given top secret clearance despite protests from FBI investigators.
Edmonds says packages containing nuclear secrets were delivered by Turkish operatives, using their cover as members of the diplomatic and military community, to contacts at the Pakistani embassy in Washington.
Following 9/11, a number of the foreign operatives were taken in for questioning by the FBI on suspicion that they knew about or somehow aided the attacks.
Edmonds said the State Department official once again proved useful. "A primary target would call the official and point to names on the list and say, 'We need to get them out of the US because we can't afford for them to spill the beans'," she said. "The official said that he would 'take care of it'."
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